The different colors of gold used in jewelry

If you are looking for a gold jewel and are looking to find out more about this precious metal, you may feel a bit lost in any of the colors that gold jewelry can take.

Indeed, depending on the composition of the alloy, the gold can be white, pink, green or even black if we consider the modern surface treatments.

These are in all 9 different shades given to gold according to its composition or the surface treatment received.

different colors of gold in jewelry

Panel of colors taken by gold according to the composition of the gold alloy (source photo)

 

To help you see more clearly, this article presents all the colors that can take the gold alloys according to their composition:

Colors of gold alloys most commonly used in jewelery

As you may know, gold is a very malleable metal in its pure state, so for fine designs of gold jewelry it is essential to "harden" it by combining it with other metals .

The silver and copper used for these purposes can change the color of the gold according to their proportions in the alloy, this feature has long been used in goldsmithery.

The following table shows the shades obtained by combining different proportions of copper and silver to gold.

relation between color and composition of gold

graphic  source

Nowadays, the "recipes" for coloring gold are more elaborate and also use other metals (Palladium, Zinc, Platinum ...).

While most jewelers use commercially prepared alloys, some jewelers and major retailers also have their recipes for making their own gold coloring, a composition whose shades are kept secret.

The information given here is therefore indicative.

In addition to changing the color of gold, the alloy of metals also facilitates the work of gold by rolling, casting or polishing.

It can also improve the resistance to frictional wear. Innovative gold alloys for their color or mechanical properties are therefore protected by patent registration.

Yellow gold: how to retain the color of gold while improving the characteristics of the metal.

Although gold is naturally yellow, making it keep its color by adding copper and silver requires a good dosage of each of the metals, because it must also respect the legal titles of gold. This subject has been treated in this article on the karats of gold.

Composition of 22 k yellow gold (917/1000): 91.7% of fine gold + 5% of silver + 2% of copper + 1.3% of zinc

Composition of 18 k yellow gold (750/1000): 75% fine gold + 12.5% copper + 12.5% silver

Composition of 14 k yellow gold (583/1000): 58.3% of fine gold + 11.5 to 25% of silver + 11.5% to 23% of copper + 2 to 7% of zinc

Composition of 9 k yellow gold (375/1000): 37.5% Fine gold + 12.1% silver + 44.4% copper + 6% zinc

 

14k yellow gold hue variation

View of two chains in 14 k yellow gold whose yellow shade varies due to the composition of the alloy.

 

Gray gold and white gold have the same basis:

The white gold used in jewelery is very often covered with a layer of rhodium to give it its final color.

Indeed, most white gold alloys are so named because they include gold-whitening metals, nevertheless, the final hue in the mass of gold pulls toward the light gray.

Only the use of metals such as Palladium (very expensive), Nickel (banned in France since 2000 because allergen) and Cadmium make it possible to obtain a tinted white gold in the mass.

white gold ring

White gold

Composition of 20 k white gold (833/1000): 83.3% of fine gold + 16.7% of Palladium

Composition of white gold 18 k (750/1000): 75% of fine gold + 18.5% of silver + 1% of copper + 5.5% of zinc

Composition of 14 k white gold (583/1000): 58.3% of fine gold + 17% of silver + 17% of copper + 7.7% of zinc

Composition of 9 k white gold (375/1000): 37.5% fine gold + 62.5% silver

Grey Gold

Composition of 18 k white gold (750/1000): 75% fine gold + 17% iron + 8% copper

colour of white gold

White gold ring with rhodium plating cutom made.

 

The shade of pink gold to red gold depends mainly on copper concentration

It is the copper which gives its more or less red color to the pink gold according to the content of it in the alloy.

The rose gold was very popular with the Russians at the beginning of the 20th century, hence the name: Russian Gold.

18k pink gold ring

18 karat gold

Composition of 18 k red gold (750/1000): 75% fine gold + 25% copper

Composition of 18 k pink gold (750/1000): 75% fine gold + 22.25% copper + 2.75% silver

Composition of 18 k pink gold (750/1000): 75% fine gold + 20% Copper + 5% Silver

14 karat gold

Composition of 14 k red gold (583/1000): 58.3% fine gold + 32.5% copper + 9.2% silver

Composition of 14 k pink gold (583/1000): 58.3% of fine gold + 24.5% of copper + 17.2% of silver

9 karat gold

Composition of 9 k red gold (375/1000): 37.5% fine gold + 55% copper + 7.5% silver

Composition of 9 k pink gold (375/1000): 37.5% fine gold + 42.5% copper + 20% silver

Shades of gold rose according to the copper content of gold (source photo)

 

Green gold also known on the old term of electrum

 

Green gold is actually a naturally occurring gold and silver alloy called Electrum. Its reflections range from yellow with light green reflections to more pronounced green.

(750/1000): 75% fine gold + 25% silver

Composition of 14 k green gold (583/1000): 58.3% fine gold + 32.5% silver + 9% copper + 0.2% zinc

18 k green gold ring by jeweler Brien Thomas (source photo)
 

The exotic colors of gold

Black gold

Although quite rare in jewelry, black gold is still the most used exotic golds. It can be obtained by surface treatment of gray gold or by alloy of Cobalt with gold then heat treatment.

Composition of 18 k black gold: 750/1000 gray gold + black rhodium surface treatment

black gold ring

18k black gold ring for men

Blue gold

Composition of 18 k blue gold (750/1000): 75% fine gold + 24.4% iron + 0.6% nickel The alloy is then heat treated in order to oxidize the iron and thus obtain a superficial blue color .

Note that although Nickel jewelery is prohibited in Europe, there are allowable emission standards. See the decree of 18 July 2000 on the prohibition of nickel in order to find out more.

For more information on blue gold, I invite you to directly consult the patent here.

Another composition, that of the 11 k blue gold (460/1000): 46% fine gold + 54% Indium.

blue gold ring

Swiss jeweler Ludwig Muller specializes in blue gold work, check out its creations here.

 

Purple gold

Purple gold is brittle and is therefore mostly used in incrustation on gold jewelry more conventional.

Composition of 19 k gold (800/1000): 79% fine gold + 21% aluminum

purple gold ring

Yellow gold ring with purple gold inlay (source photo

 

Sources :

Publication about exotic gold alloys

More information : 

 

January 03, 2018 by Nicolas Tranchant
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